The Omphalos, in Greek means navel and indicates a sacred center, a place where the divine meets the ground. There are many omphalos in the world. In Italy, the tradition is linked to many symbols worked by man, like circular boulders.
Often they are represented by obelisks, menhirs, wells or by the strange symbol of the triple enclosure, which can be traced in many places considered sacred, which consists of 3 concentric squares and segments that join the median points of the sides.
These and other mysterious symbols are present in Sovereto, a small hamlet in the municipality of Terlizzi, in the province of Bari. Terlizzi, in the province of Bari, is one of the most fascinating and mysterious places in Puglia, along the ancient Appian Way a crossroads for pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land.
Since the protohistoric period, the site had to be considered an “Omphalos“, a projection on earth of a celestial center, the “place” where the gods dwell in a concept similar to that of the Homeric Ogigia, the place where human and divine can dialogue.
Moreover, in the neighboring countryside we find the signs of ancient rituals: four menhirs aligned, a small leys certainly much denser in the past .
Etymologically, for various scholars, the origin of the name of Sovereto would seem to come from “Suberitum” (lat.), that is from suber (lat.), cork while someone else derives the origin from “erected above”, but above what? What’s in the underground?
According to a legend, around the year 1000 a farmer found an icon of the Madonna and a lighted lamp in a cave. On the area was erected the church of Santa Maria di Sovereto. The effigy was a Black Madonna.
Towards the end of 1100 the site had become so important that two convent communities were built, that of the nuns of San Marco and the Knights Hospitallers of San Giovanni (the Knights Templars). Once the fame of this sanctuary became known, all those who went to Jerusalem passing through the Appian Way, very close to our sanctuary, did not fail to enter it.
Into the Church of Santa Maria di Sovereto there are many traces and clues, sometimes hidden that would make us think of a settlement of the Knights of the Temple: apart the many crosses outside and inside the church there are
also five tombstones of which three represent knights with insignia on the cloak of the Knights of the Temple. Also the arms placed in a crossed position, custom of the Knights of the Temple, which represents the “X” of Xristos (from X in Greek Chi) the name of the Messiah.
On another slab now used as a bench there is also the symbol of the triple enclosure which indicates the sacredness and centrality of the place. Symbol of conjunction, it reappears near the crypt with the “cosmic tree“, a cosmic element of conjunction between heaven and earth.
In the Bible it indicates the courtyard with the triple circle of walls of the Temple of Solomon, but also the Heavenly and the Terrestrer Jerusalem. On the right wall we find clear Templar symbols such as the ladder with the “double rung” and the chessboard is the symbol of positive and negative, of black and white, of good and evil, of war and prayer, of intellect and devotion.
It seems that the church stands on a geomantic node, also highlighted by the numerous menhirs that are still visible in the area. Also linked to the idea of omphalos is the concept of thaumaturgical water. In fact, an underground river flows below the church, accessible through a well outside the church. Many witnesses affirm the miraculousness of this water. Outside the church a lunette depicts the Black Madonna and a man climbing the steps of a staircase that rests on the water. It is clear that even the ancient builders of the church knew of the existence of underground water and its particular importance linked to the place of worship.
Porto Badisco, near Otranto, according to the myth, the first shore touched by Aeneas in his escape from Troy. Here is the Grotta dei Cervi, discovered only in 1970.
Inside speleologists found rock paintings of the first inhabitants of the area who lived there 6 millennia ago, according to archaeological ricostructions. Studies on wall lasted more than 10 years and stated these paintings as
“the most important and qualitatively most impressive post-paleolithic wall painting art complex known in Europe […] enclosed in a single cave“.
The red and black paintings depict hunting scenes, deer and other signs of difficult interpretation. The place is not officially open to the public so as not to disturb the particular microclimate of the cave and thus preserve the paintings. Among the pictograms there is one that depicts a cruciform celestial body with a sort of cockpit in the center and elsewhere hominids with their weapons who destroy villages and kidnap the inhabitants.
What do these signs mean? What ancient memory do they tell? Is the closure of the cave linked to the desire to keep these paintings hidden? The speleologist Isidoro Mattioli who was among the group of discoverers returned to the cave other times to never return because, he says, during the explorations he heard the roar of rolling stones and the sound of drums.
The legend of the Shaman of Messapia
A new legend inflated by followers of extraterrestrial theories tells that 5 millenia ago, the same period of paintings, the Salento was a lush and mysterious land, rich in water and life, of immense forests with huge tall trees and a fertile undergrowth populated by wild boars, deer and magnificent moose. The planetary assembly of the gods met periodically near the sulfur springs, generated by the disintegration of the bodies of the Titans, massacred by Heracles with the help of Zeus. Every hundred years, a great multitude of picturesque deities discussed the problems and destinies of humanity. The result of each meeting of the planetary divinities was fixed on ideograms and pictograms impressed on the walls of the main caves along the coast.
During the first assembly of the fifth millennium BC they decided the fate of the weaver Aracne and the Shaman of Messapia (probably portrayed in this pictogram), who were confined into the Grotta dei Cervi. The Messapian Shaman was a beautiful and very intelligent man, who wanted to refute the methods and treatments of the god Asclepius.
He proposed to obtain healing from illness and even to guarantee the resurrection of death with the help of faithful snakes and the magical effect of the blood of the Medusa, the Gorgon, which he had exchanged for his own with the help of Athena.
Asclepius, in revenge, proposed to wall him alive in the Grotta dei Cervi . But Arachne, who loved the shaman, offered him a huge polygonal canvas as a gift, which would be used to shelter from the cold and humidity of the cave. When Asclepius learned of this, he reached the cave angry, horribly deforming the shaman’s features and fixing him like a pictogram on the cave walls; moreover, the furious divinity reduced the cloth lovingly woven by Arachne to a thousand pieces and deposited his apparently useless rags (zinzuli) in a cave to the south, which for this reason took the name of Grotta Zinzulusa.
If this seems to be only a legend, we suggest you to have a look on the many pictograms and paintings in many caves whose signs remember Ufo and spacecraft and peolple with an helmet. To be continued…
An extreme possibility to escape the summer torrid heat: an Ice-bar. Inside the temperature goes from the outside 30 degrees to -10 inside an Ice Bar and you can spend few minutes having a frozen drink (but also hot …) in a bar where everything is made of ice!!!
Glasses, counter and also chairs and paintings, in a ice bar in Stockholm, Sweden, everything follows this theme. It is the first and the only permanent ice bar in the world that attracts thousands of curious tourists every year. Opened in 1994, it is located at number 4 in Vasaplan, where there is also the Nordic Sea Hotel. To enter it you need to cover yourself very well, wearing heavy jackets and gloves that can be supplied directly from the bar. The ice to built the bar comes directly from the Arctic Circle. You cannot stay longer than 40 minutes, given that the temperature inside is always -5° C. According to the experts, staying longer may cause affecctions to physique. Just enough time to drink a cocktail in a glass of ice.
In the world there are others of ice bars. From Rome to London, from Montreal to Barcelona, from Paris to Tokyo, there are about thirty.
A gorgeous experience to do. Let’s do it and … break the ice! But what are the best Ice Bars in Europe where to live this absolutely unique experience?
Xtracold Ice bar, Amsterdam
Let’s start from the Xtracold Ice Bar, Amsterdam, Netherlands, one of the first European ice bars. 10 degrees below zero, spacious and welcoming. Interior decoration is amazing, with objects and mannequins embedded in ice. A large area for dancing will help to warm up the evening.
Absolute Ice Bar, Milan
Absolute Icebar Italia: this was certainly the coldest bar in Milan, unfortunately opened for a short time. In its place today there is a hotel. To build it were necessary 40 tons of ice and imagination and skill of several artists. In the bar were offered excellent fruit vodka drinks.
Ice bar Palermo
Ice Bar Palermo, Palermo, Italy: with its -10 degrees, this ice bar is ready to welcome customers for an unordinary evening. Before the entrance, there are offered to customers blanket and gloves to withstand the cold atmosphere and to sip their cocktail from ice glasses, created by molds left in the freezer for 10 /12 hours. Snacks are also served on an ice plate!
Ice Kube Bar, Paris, France
Ice Kube Bar, Paris, France: in this famous French ice bar the first room at -10 degrees to get used to the cold before going inside, where the temperature goes from -10 to -20 degrees. Who has been there says that being in is like drinking a cocktail in a freezer! The bar is adorned with ice sculptures depicting bears and other animals, reproductions of igloos, sofas lined with synthetic fur. Don’t forget that yours will be a rather short evening: you can’t resist in the bar not more than 30 minutes!
Icebarcelona, Barcelona, Spain: an all-ice bar … on the beach! Expect a crazy experience and amazing furnishings, with sculptures, castles and even a fireplace. Lights reflected on the ice create an intense atmosphere, truly spectacular. Many are the also events in this definitely unusual and particular location.
Ice Bar Madrid
Ice Bar Madrid, Madrid, Spain: from Monday to Thursday starting at 20.00 and Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 22.00 you can watch the Aurora Borealis show thanks the collaboration with a naturalist and a video specialist, who project images and videos of this amazing natural phenomenon directly on the walls this sub-zero bar.
Ice bar London
Ice Bar London, London, England is the warmest ice bar with an inside temperature of -5 degrees. The ice has been mostly collected in northern Sweden. Once you have chosen your drink, you can take a souvenir photo or buy small gifts, such as fur hats or ice candles.
Icebar Budapest, Budapest, Hungary: a really not to miss place in the beautiful Hungarian capital. The bar, completely built in ice, is inspired to the marine world: inside you will find a large aquarium.
Absolute Ice bar, Copenhagen
Absolut Ice Bar, Copenhagen, Denmark was the first to open in the city but has currently been closed for 2 years. In its place you will find two others: the Reflecion Ice bar and the Magic Ice bar. The latter one is the only permanent in Copenhagen.
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